Why and how the nematode's early embryogenesis can be precise and robust: A mechanical perspective

Binghui Tian, Guoye Guan, Lei Han Tang, Chao Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The early embryogenesis in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is well-known for its stereotypic precision of cell arrangements and their lineage relationship. Much research has been focused on how biochemical processes achieve the highly reproducible cell lineage tree. However, the origin of the robustness in the cell arrangements is poorly understood. Here, we set out to provide a mechanistic explanation of how combining mechanical forces with the order and orientation of cell division ensures a robust arrangement of cells. We used a simplified mechanical model to simulate the arrangement of cells in the face of different disturbances. As a result, we revealed three fail-safe principles for cell self-organization in early nematode embryogenesis: ordering, simultaneity, and the division orientation of cell division events. Our work provides insight into the developmental strategy and contributes to the understanding of how robust or variable the cell arrangement can be in developing embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Article number026001
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number2
Early online date28 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • C. elegans embryogenesis
  • cell division order
  • cell division orientation
  • cell positioning
  • mechanical model


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